(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – Could Clark County really be playing hardball with its unions this time around? The County is striking back at the Service Employee International Union’s (SEIU) stalling, delaying and intimation tactics.
The County recently filed a complaint with the state of Nevada’s Employee-Management Relations Board arguing the SEIU was failing to bargain in good faith in negotiations over a new contract. The old contract expired at the end of June.
The County claims the union is refusing to meet more than once a month and the union is dragging its feet when it does come to the table, showing up late and taking long breaks during the negotiating sessions. In addition, the union is refusing to bargain on pay, despite the County’s need to cut costs.
At one point, instead of showing up for the negotiations scheduled for 9 a.m. on a Friday morning, the union held a “pep rally” outside the negotiating room. After more than an hour, the SEIU contingent summoned the County’s negotiators to the hall where the rally was occurring and the scores of union members remained.
There the union presented the County with a stack of documents that, the complaint says, “were a petition stating that Union members would no longer consider financial articles.” The mob cheered the SEIU President’s statement that the union would no longer negotiate pay.
These union negotiators who are stalling and holding up the process in an effort to extract the maximum from the taxpayers of Clark County are likely doing so on the taxpayers’ dime.
The SEIU contract negotiated last March calls for the equivalent of 2.9 full-time positions working for the union to be paid by the taxpayers. The SEIU President is paid full-time by County taxpayers but, according to the contract, “shall be scheduled 40 hours paid time off per calendar week to accomplish Union business.”
You got it. The union Prez is a full-time employee of the union who is on the full-time payroll of Clark County taxpayers.
Not only that, the Executive Vice President and chief stewards of the union are allowed a total of 36 hours per week between them to work for the union at taxpayer expense. And, an additional 2080 hours (equal to 40 hours per week for 52 weeks) is set aside for other union members to attend to union business on the taxpayers’ dime.
With unemployment in the state continuing to be the highest in the nation, the union apparently doesn’t realize how good its members have it. As NBC revealed in a column during the previous negotiations SEIU members have been insulated from the devastation of the recession.
While many private-sector workers have suffered 30% or more pay cuts, a typical SEIU member working at the same job could be making nearly 40% more this year than during the height of the boom. That’s even after the 2% “pay cut” the union supposedly took in the last contract, which was actually a 2% raise for most.
That’s not all. It’s not unusual for a worker in the private sector to lose his job over a single incidence of not showing up for work without telling his employer.
But you don’t have to worry about that if you’re an SEIU worker for Clark County. An SEIU member gets a free pass for his first eight no-call, no-shows. Only on the ninth such offense is his boss able to discipline him.
There are also generous vacation, holiday and sick leave policies. Don’t forget about merit pay and longevity pay that allow union members to continue to be paid more money each year even as they complain about taking “cuts”.
We applaud Clark County for standing up for taxpayers and refusing to back down to the SEIU. The County needs to continue to stand firm and stop the SEIU from sticking it to the taxpayers.
Copy of complaint obtained via Jon Ralston.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)